Fred Plotkin brings together passion and scholarship, poetry, history, and vivid images of Liguria in Recipes from Paradise
, a meticulous and loving record of the region known as the Italian Riviera. Literate and richly written, even florid at times, it documents the interplay of land and sea elemental to Ligurian life in fascinating detail. The alluring, authentic recipes include Stuffed Basil Leaves, Chestnut Gnocchi, and Polenta Incatenata, made with beans, cabbage, and potatoes. Ingredient lists give measures by weight (ounces), volume (cups), and grams, and oven temperatures in Fahrenheit and Centigrade. Some may find this thoroughness distracting, but it makes the book useful to anyone anywhere. More challenging than the careful measurements is the windy narrative form Plotkin employs in the steps for making the dishes; with so many words to wade through, the style may make finding your place difficult. Italophiles and cookbook literati, however, will not care about Plotkin's verbosity as they are blissfully transported and enlightened by the recipes and descriptions.
Although Plotkin sometimes sounds like the president of the chamber of commerce, his enthusiasm is infectious and his knowledge genuine. He is passionate about the culinary traditions of Liguria, and he has a proper respect for the building blocks of its cuisine, which puts a premium on fragrance. -- The New York Times Book Review, William Grimes